Horror enfranchisement was buried six feet under long ago. The Scream movies popping out another ident-i-kit offering recently is symptomatic of how horror, more than any other genre, seems content to just ‘do it again’ under the protective blanket of a known name.
Yet, the Evil Dead has burst out of the ground with force, sloshing blood from on high and dirtying the competition below. It has risen, hallelujah!
This wasn’t a guarantee. The last feature film made by the original core team was the action comedy leaning Army of Darkness (1992).
The franchise was then rebooted with extra yuk but no gagging in 2013’s Evil Dead. However, Evil Dead Rise, for the first time since the hugely influential Evil Dead II (1987), nails the tone like a googly-eyed steel pike rammed through your hand.
What Is Evil Dead Rise About?
Little time is wasted by director Lee Cronin to establish his credentials. After hair-raising violence and a spot of posturing levitation, an attention grabbing title card emblazons the screen with intent.
Yet things are going to change up a bit; the setting is not a cabin in the woods, but a condemned apartment block in Los Angeles.
The urban setting does little to dampen the Deadite dread. A small family unit trapped within their own home is arguably more horrifying than a secluded hut: it could happen to YOU.
Here it happens to single mother Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), her three children (Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, and Nell Fisher), and guitar tech sister (Lily Sullivan).
Each fills the screen with their own distinct personality, even if some of the character beats fizzle out once the franchise’s accursed words are uttered.
As a wise man in The Mummy once yelled, “YOU MUST NOT READ FROM THE BOOK!” The logic used in Evil Dead Rises is the same as its predecessors: once the unholy summoning words are spoken then there is no defence against bodily possession, self-mutilation, and bloodlust murder as wrought by the sadistic Deadites.
Yet Cronin takes an unusual approach by actually fixing upon an antagonist.
Evil Dead Rise Official Trailer
Is Evil Dead Rise Worth Watching?
Unlike the usual wandering possession that picks off one character after another, Evil Dead Rises ram-o-cams into Ellie early on and sets her maniacally loose against her own family.
Given the gift of time, Sutherland has the room to fully unleash her showstopping screeching demonic presence. There is nothing subtle about a Deadite, and Sutherland’s tireless mania pumps the movie full of gutsy energy.
This change of flesh tearing dynamic and switched up setting breaks the ‘once more with less feeling’ curse of the horror sequel.
Evil Dead Rises keeps one ravaged foot in the franchise mythos whilst plunging the other straight into the garbage disposal.
It isn’t long before things get heave-inducing squelchy. Cronin knows that pain is what grates an Evil Dead audience’s cheese, and he delivers it by the wheelbarrow.
Is it scary? Hell, no! The Evil Dead 2013 reboot tried to don that flesh-suit but subsequently lacked its own face.
In Evil Dead Rises everything is dialled up so high that even the most splatter soaked moment is stupid, in the best possible way; the film is funny without actually being comedic.
With plenty for both established fans and newcomers, Evil Dead Rises is the shot in the arm the franchise sorely needed, striking both old and new ground equally hard.
If you summon it up into your watchlist then I dare you to leave the movie without feeling chipper.
Words by Mike Record
How Many Evil Dead Movies Are There?
In total there are five Evil Dead films made over a period of more than 40 years.
The Evil Dead (1981)
Written and directed by Sam Raimi (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), this is the original film in the series, and it established Raimi as a talented filmmaker.
Evil Dead II (1987)
Also directed by Raimi, the second movie in the series is both a sequel and a partial remake of the original film.
Army of Darkness (1992)
Raimi was back again to direct the third film, also known as Evil Dead III, which has more comedic tone compared to the previous films.
Evil Dead (2013)
The fourth movie saw a change at the helm with Fede Alvarez taking up the directing duties. This is more of a soft reboot and features a new cast of characters. It also has a darker and more serious tone compared to the original trilogy.
Evil Dead Rise (2023)
The fifth movie in the franchise is written and directed by Lee Cronin. For more info, see review above!
Cast Of Evil Dead Rise
Lily Sullivan as Beth
Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie
Morgan Davies as Danny
Gabrielle Echols as Bridget
Nell Fisher as Kassie
Noah Paul as Bruce
Richard Crouchley as Caleb
Mirabai Pease as Teresa
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